The Prince George Cougars were certainly feeling at home in Red Deer over the long weekend. Ethan O’Rourke scored midway through the third period to break a 1-1 tie, as the Cougars edged the Calgary Hitmen 2-1 Saturday afternoon at the Enmax Centrium.
It was the second straight game the Cougars manufactured the game-winner in the third period, as Kody McDonald played hero on Friday afternoon against Edmonton.
Josh Maser opened the scoring in the first period and Isaiah DiLaura and Taylor Gauthier combined to make 30 saves in the exhibition win.
The penalty-kill may have been the Cougars biggest strength on Saturday as they killed-off six of Calgary’s seven power-plays.
Maser got the Cougars out ahead relatively early, scoring just six-minutes into his pre-season debut. Maser and Boston Maxwell both wacked at a loose puck at the top of the crease but it was Maser who got the last touch, forcing underneath the goalie.
Prince George almost scored earlier, as Brogan O’Brien busted through the Calgary defenders and just missed tucking the puck around the goalie’s pad two-minutes in.
In the second the Cougars got on the zebras’ bad side, as Calgary was handed five consecutive power-plays in the middle stanza. Despite being on the power-play for half the period, Prince George limited the Hitmen to just 12 shots in the frame. The Hitmen had six consecutive power-plays before the Cougars got their first opportunity with the man-advantage.
The Cougars had a chance to go up by two but Liam Ryan was stopped on a three-on-one, after taking a nifty pass from Radovan Bondra.
On their seventh power-play of the afternoon, Calgary got on the scoresheet, as Zach Huber walked the goal-line and tucked the puck around the pad of Taylor Gauthier at 3:47. Moments before that goal, O’Brien was stopped on a breakaway during a four-on-four sequence, as he couldn’t beat the Hitmen goalie over the blocker.
Despite the tying goal, the Cougars persevered and got their break just before the midway mark of the third. Ethan O’Rourke, who had an impressive showing at Training Camp, found the puck in the slot and made no mistake, ripping a wrist-shot up and over the shoulder of Matthew Armitage at 9:13.
In the final minute, Calgary tried to pull their goalie late for the extra attacker but Prince George did a great job of pressuring the puck down ice, not allowing the Hitmen setup.
Score: 2-1 Cougars
Shots: 33-31 Cougars
Power-Plays: Cougars 0-3 Hitmen 1-7
The Cougars depart for Banff Sunday morning for a two-day team retreat, before heading back west for three more pre-season games at the Langley Events Centre, against Vancouver, Victoria and Everett.
-Prince George Cougars